Transitioning waste management more customer-centric



Encore is one of the leading waste management companies in Finland. The company was founded in 1943 by the Finnish forestry giants and is still owned by them today. As digitalization has had a major impact on the amounts of recycled paper available, the company has embarked on a journey of transition and new growth opportunities. Also indicated by its name change from the more traditional Paperinkeräys to Encore, thus emphasizing the shift of focus to circular economy.

Waste management companies are facing disruption from left and right. Digitalization may turn waste management into yet another industry taken over by platform companies that don’t own assets yet connect the different players to each other efficiently through data. Servitization and increasing customer focus are turning process-focused companies inside out. A wave of consolidation has been sweeping the Finnish market.

With this background, Encore turned to us to help them strengthen an ongoing transition into a more agile, digital, and customer-focused company. Utilizing a Life-centric® version of service design, we partnered with Encore to unearth human insights and translate them into a new service offering.


  • Long table research
  • Ethnographic research
  • Product and service strategy
  • Product and service design
  • Culture change
  • Agile and lean design sprints and co-development workshops


We conducted multidimensional research into the lives of both customers and employees of Encore. We hosted in-depth interviews with different customer and user groups of Encore’s services, followed the recycling activities of different user groups in different industries. Furthermore, we got to know the organization deeply by working side-by-side with them.

”Co-founders’ work combines the understanding of the big, strategic picture, with the grassroots, human insights gathered from our customers. The transcribed interviews, and the insights we gained from them, were extremely valuable in themselves.” Petri Aaltonen, CEO, Encore



As the work continued, it became clear that the focus wasn’t only to solve the customer’s problems and challenges found through research. It was as important to find solutions to the issues that had kept the organization from transitioning into a more agile and customer-focused version of itself. As the project advanced, we supported Encore’s leadership team with benchmarks, ways to implement the service and product strategy, as well as advisory on company culture and branding matters.



We became a true team extension of Encore, combining workshops and lean iteration weeks to bring the new service offering to life. We pushed the different service concepts forward as fast as we could each week, worked closely together with the customers to hear their feedback and ideas, and rolled out yet another iterated design the following week. As a result, Encore has gained new capabilities when it comes to customer-centric service design, as well as multiple new services that are already in use today, and that we continue to co-develop together.

”I feel that we have truly worked together with Co-founders as a combined team, and not as external consultants advising an internal client team. They have become a real extension of our team.” Petri Aaltonen, CEO, Encore


Image credits: Katri Lehtola